Should You Take on a Second Job?

In today's economy, it's becoming more popular to take on a second gig.

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Lindsay Olson
In today’s economy, many people are considering a second job. Living costs are high enough that just about any upset can cause financial issues if you aren’t prepared. For some, this might be a partner losing a job. For others, it could be an illness that sets them back.

New expenses, such as a baby or hospital bills, may also cause you to start looking down the extra job path. Your decision to make some additional money may be deliberate—maybe you need to save money up for a big trip, a special purchase, or to further your education. Whatever your need, it’s clear you need more cash in your hands. Is a second job the course of action you need?

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What You Need to Consider

Picking up a second job isn’t just about adding extra income to your bank account. Before you even start looking at job ads, sit down and figure out exactly how much money you will need to reach your goals, as well as how long you would need to take on additional work to reach your goal.

Not all companies are open to their employees moonlighting. Before job hunting, find out if your employer has a policy on moonlighting that might prevent you from taking on a second job.

Just how many hours can you actually work at another job? You still need to sleep and you still need some leisure time, so working 18-hour days may not be feasible. Not everyone can handle longer hours and still do a good job in both positions. Is it even possible for you to add more hours at another job without it affecting your main position?

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Check into your alternatives to taking on a second job. Can you change anything in your current position? Are you up for a review or raise that would enable you to reach the amount you need without having to work another job? Your current job may allow you to work more hours. What can you cut from your monthly expenses to save money?

Choosing the Perfect Second Job

A part-time job or one where you can work at home will be far more flexible than other positions. Flexibility is essential in a second job, since you need to put your main one first. You should be careful to avoid any position that may have a conflict of interest with your main job, as well, keeping in mind that a stressful position should be balanced out by a more relaxed one or you’ll end up fighting stress and health issues.

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Before accepting any position, make sure that it pays enough to make it what worth the long hours you’ll be working. You will also want to make sure you have at least one day off once in a while. A leisure day is essential to perform at your best and maintain your focus.

Freelance opportunities or even odd jobs might help you fill the gap as an alternative to taking on a permanent, part-time position. Sites like Task Rabbit allow you to connect with local people in the area who want to outsource a very specific task—from a small office project or grocery shopping deliveries to small sewing projects or helping unpack and organize after a big move.

While working a second job can be useful in bringing in more income, you will want to plan ahead. Chances are high you won’t want to work multiple jobs forever, so have an exit strategy. Keep in mind your specific goals and what it will take to reach them. Once you get there, you can re-evaluate if continuing with multiple jobs is working for you.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.